Luis Camnitzer

Luis Camnitzer, Chrismas Trees (installation view)2004

Luis Camnitzer, Chrismas Trees (installation view)2004

For International 04, Luiz Camnitzer (b.1937, Germany) took the opportunity to question our habitual reading of the compass with two interventions that were situated in the Palm House, one on the building’s exterior, the other among plants.

Camnitzer remembers his astonishment on discovering that European colonials in the Caribbean, as in many places in the Southern Hemisphere also, would dress in furs at Christmas, despite the heat and humidity, to demonstrate their status. The Christmas trees, carefully labelled, where as exotic in their northern provenance to someone from the southern hemisphere as is the Palm House's little empire of southern spices to a native of Liverpool.

The Palm House has four doors aligned with the four points of the compass. Alignment with the sun is no doubt a natural instinct for a horticulturalist, but there is an unavoidable reference, intended or not, to the compass of Christopher Columbus (whose statue is outside) and the other entrepreneurs upon whom the collection of plants at the Palm House was ultimately dependent.

Camnitzer’s understated intervention at the Palm House doors commented on the corruption of the objective convention of the compass by political ideology. Unknown to the artist, in the imperial era in Britain there was a common saying (reproduced on tea-cosies and biscuit tins and over fireplaces): East West Home's Best.

Luiz Camnitzer at Liverpool Biennial 2004

Chrismas Trees, North South East Best and The Squaring of the Circle Installations, 2004
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at The Palm House

Luiz Camnitzer at Liverpool Biennial 1999

The Waiting Room, 1999
Mixed Media Installation 
Collection of the artist

Supported by

Goethe Institut, Manchester